U.S. Representative Ashley Hinson discusses economic development with local leaders and businesses during Waukon visit Thursday

U.S. Representative Hinson visits with economic development leaders ... Newly elected U.S. Representative Ashley Hinson met with business owners and local leaders in economic development during a Thursday, February 18 visit to Waukon. Hinson is pictured at far left above with, left to right, Waukon Economic Development Corporation Director Ardie Kuhse, Allamakee-Clayton Electric Cooperative Economic Development and Community Relations Manager Brenda Hackman, Allamakee County Economic Development and Tourism Executive Director Val Reinke and Waukon Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Leddia Tallman following Friday’s economic development discussion. Standard photo by Joe Moses.

by Joe Moses

U.S. Representative Ashley Hinson of Iowa’s First Congressional District met with a group of approximately 25 Allamakee County constituents Thursday, February 18 at the Waukon Wellness Center as part of a 20-county tour of her northeast Iowa Congressional District.

Following the meeting, Hinson met with The Standard and provided an overview of the topics discussed during that earlier meeting. Hinson said that it was important to hear from a variety of stakeholders from Allamakee County including those involved in manufacturing, small business, healthcare, utilities and elected officials at the city and county levels. As part of this 20-county tour, Hinson said that key issues identified include challenges relating to housing, workforce and childcare which are being faced by many rural Iowans.

Hinson discussed the feedback received during the Allamakee County meeting, with economic development being a topic discussed by several in attendance. A common theme heard at Friday’s meeting, Hinson said, related to the negative impact a proposed $15 per hour minimum wage would have upon jobs in the local area. Hinson also advised that the feedback received relating to infrastructure, which she described as an issue important to rural Iowa, is valuable to keep in mind as her work continues as part of the Appropriations Committee in Washington during the process of developing an infrastructure package.

Hinson said that following her visit to Waukon, she would be traveling to Elkader’s Mobile Track Solutions in Clayton County. She added that it has been good to talk to employers and stakeholders, with that feedback to be taken back to Washington, which she indicated truly allows her to speak on behalf of those she represents. Hinson added that candid conversations like at Thursday’s meeting are needed to get through the current pandemic.

Hinson discussed that one of the reasons she originally ran for Congress was to create accountability for taxpayers and to be a taxpayer advocate. She suggested that her recently proposed bill, the Reopen Schools Act, relates to the $54 billion appropriated in December specifically as part of the last COVID-19 package to assist schools in reopening. Hinson stated that she believes that Iowa is leading the way in reopening schools in terms of planning and safety with many schools across the country not doing this.

Hinson added that with $54 billion at stake, her bill has requirements that must be met for this funding to be made available to school districts in stages and is contingent upon submitting a reopening plan to their state’s Governor. Hinson added that a third of the funding will be made available to schools immediately to assist with the reopening process, with the remaining two-thirds to be made available following submission of their reopening plans to the Governor of their state.

Hinson further discussed the importance of getting students back in the classroom with reopening plans that have 50% of students attending in-person classroom instruction at least 50% of the time. Hinson also discussed ongoing work in getting bipartisan sponsors for this legislation with priorities that include getting students back in the classroom so they do not fall behind and so they are not facing continued mental health challenges, as well as to provide taxpayer accountability.

Hinson discussed her work as a co-sponsor of over 50 pieces of legislation and her involvement with the Budget Committee to resume the week following the meeting, that work relating to the COVID-19 Relief package that is currently going through the budget reconciliation process. Hinson discussed concerns relating to the attempt to use a shell resolution to pass this package, requiring only 51 votes in the Senate, with this process adding items discussed at Thursday’s meeting, including a $15 minimum wage, which she indicated would have a negative impact upon local businesses in Allamakee County, in addition to providing bailouts for states that have chronically mismanaged their budgets.

Hinson said that Iowa has spent less than it takes in, with the state being in a good place financially while other states have not been as responsible. Hinson added that current relief measure proposed would reward states for their budget woes, with this matter to be reviewed next week by the Budget Committee.

In addition to the Budget Committee, Hinson discussed serving on the Appropriations Committee, with a budget proposal from the Biden Administration yet to be received with review to take place in determining mandatory spending and discretionary spending.

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